STAUNTON, Va. – The Mary Baldwin University women's basketball team fell to William Peace, 86-70, in its conference opener on Sunday evening in the PAC.
The Fighting Squirrels sit at 4-3 on the year and start league play at 0-1. Meanwhile, the Pacers move to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in conference matchups.
Jalen Gathers led MBU with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field and also recorded two rebounds in 22 minutes. She also dropped in two three-pointers.
Leah Calhoun shot 5-of-8 from the floor and registered 12 points to go with nine rebounds, a pair of blocks and a steal.
Demet Saygili rounded out the starters who finished in double figures as she recorded 11 points in 37 minutes. Saygili collected six assists, five rebounds and a steal in the loss.
In the first quarter, the Pacers jumped out to an early 8-1 lead with over six minutes remaining on the clock. Brooke Anders hit a three with 5:19 showing on the scoreboard to spur a 10-2 run that eclipsed three minutes of clock as the Fighting Squirrels took the lead 11-10. A pair of free throws for WPU gave them the edge again, but a trey from Gathers pushed MBU back ahead, 14-12, with 2:19 left in the quarter. A layup by Nicole Mallon and alternating threes gave Mary Baldwin a 19-15 edge at the end of the first.
The two sides alternated scores in the first half of the second quarter before a pair of free throws from the Pacers tied the score at 23-23 with 6:15 left on the clock. A layup from Hannah Varner put the home side up two before the Pacers embarked on an 11-4 run to go up 34-29 with 2:31 remaining in the half. Mary Baldwin scored the next eight points and looked to take a three-point advantage into halftime before a near half-court shot from Lauryn Cross fell true to tie the game at 37-37 just before the buzzer.
In the third quarter, the two teams traded layups until a jumper from Jaymesha Sanders gave the Pacers a 45-43 edge. A free throw and two jumpers padded the advantage to 50-44 but Cauy Duboise broke up the run with a layup for the Fighting Squirrels. Mikayla Ray finished the quarter with 10 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from the field and nailing four straight free throws as the Pacers took a 65-57 lead into the final period.
Mary Moran got the first points of the period on a jumper seconds into the fourth to trim the lead to 65-59, but three-straight scores from WPU gave the Pacers a 10-point advantage (71-61) with 8:06 showing on the clock. The Pacers' lead eventually grew to 18 points as WPU held on for an 86-70 victory.
For the Pacers, Ray finished with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. She also grabbed six rebounds, nabbed three assists and a steal. Sanders ended the game with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards. Off the bench, Sydney Austin finished with 13 points in 13 minutes to go with four rebounds.
As a team, the Fighting Squirrels shot 38.6 percent (27-70), including 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from long range, while WPU made 42.2 percent (27-64) of their shots. The Pacers also shot 83.3 percent (30-36) from the line in comparison to 8-of-12 from the charity stripe by the home side. William Peace won the rebounding battle with a 45-37 edge on the boards.
The Fighting Squirrels return to action on Friday, Dec. 6, as they continue league play at Averett beginning at 7 pm.